Your patriotism, Mr President, was once beyond reproach. Beware the careerists who would now direct you on a path to ruin, warns Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya.
Dear Mr President
I am not going to ask you to resign. That settled, I am writing to you directly because like you I love my country.
Unlike you, I could never have had your courage and I doubt if I would have been willing to pay the price you paid.
Not many know that in the 10 years you spent on Robben Island, you did not have a single visit.
I cannot start to imagine how that feels – to never see the face of a loved one other than a comrade for an entire decade.
Unlike you, I cannot imagine leaving my wife a mere two years after we got married for the uncertain and lonely life of exile.
I am sure Oliver Tambo must have seen and known something in you to make you, at 35 years old, one of the youngest members of the NEC in 1977.
There must be a good reason that you were among the first cadres of exiled leadership who arrived back home for talks with the apartheid regime.
I am saying all this to remind those of us who think you emerged from nowhere to lead our country that they are wrong.
I am writing to remind or inform some of our compatriots who doubt you were ever a true patriot that there was a time when your love for this country was beyond reproach.
I am also writing this letter because I hear people who say they like or even love you, and will continue driving you to a path that has led you to trouble before.
You said yourself that the reason you find yourself in the latest pickle is because you took bad advice.
I hope you are not taking advice, legal or moral, from the same people when they say what happened at the Constitutional Court was not a big deal.
It will be a sad day, sir, when the head of state depends on a generous interpretation of what it means to be found to have violated his own oath of office.
If you say the reason you broke the law was because those you trusted gave you bad advice, don’t you think it is folly to trust their cheers for you?
How many times must you trust the people who made you appoint advocate Menzi Simelane (when there was an unresolved court matter into his very probity), only for the court to rule you had not applied your mind when making the appointment?
What weight do you place on the counsel of the same people who told you not to worry about handing over what we today call “the spy tapes”, only for the court to say you should?
I would not be surprised if those who say they are doing your bidding are the same people who said Sudanese murderer of black people Omar al Bashir could come and go as he pleased, even if our country was a signatory of an international statute that obliged that he should be arrested if he sets foot here, only for your government to be embarrassed by the high and supreme courts.
Your reputation as a freedom fighter is now questioned even by those, like the Freedom Front, who former president Nelson Mandela practically had to beg to accept that apartheid was dead.
Someone is abusing your reputation as a good listener and a man of the people, for their own good.
Mr President, you will not be the first head of state to be misled by the ululations and praises of those who say they love you.
You were in the Presidency (shortened as the term might have been) when your predecessor carried out what today everyone accepts was a disastrous policy on HIV and Aids.
You were in the leadership of the party that said nothing, at least not in public. Just as history judges former President Thabo Mbeki for the HIV and Aids stance, and says nothing about the many imbongis he had, it will be your name that our children’s grandchildren will read about and pass judgment on.
What do you think they will think of you and this moment?
Please ask yourself how you can trust those who, when they are supposed to give you honest counsel, choose to tell you what they think you want to hear and not what you need to know.
Such people have their own interests and not yours, your party’s or government at heart. Your comrades call it careerism.
Lastly, I have always understood that the ANC styles itself as leader of not only government but society.
If that is true, the right to lead society does not flow from statutes and law books.
It is formed by every day working through our human foibles to become the symbol of all that we wish we were and aspire to become.
Are you that kind of man, Mr President?
* Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is the editor of The Mercury. Follow him on Twitter @fikelelom